Police in Salem, New Hampshire are breathing a sigh of relief after a lost rifle and ammunition is returned to the department.
Police have been looking for it since Tuesday night when an officer realized that he took off in a cruiser while the gun was still on top of his trunk.
Bob McQuaid gets most of his days started with an early morning walk. It was still dark on Wednesday morning, when McQuaid noticed something on the side of the road.
"I turned onto Millville and I saw something black on the ground," he said.
He thought the canvas bag was a violin case. He picked it up and brought it home, not really sure what to do with it.
At noon he turned on the news, to learn that Salem Police were desperately searching for a lost rifle and ammunition.
"That's when I saw it and I said, 'Oh, I think I got that under my bed,'" McQuaid told NECN.
He checked the bag to find a weapon marked "For Police Use Only" and that's when he realized the the weapon was real.
"I was scared," he said.
McQuaid was holding a semi-automatic, short-barreled rifle and a bullet.
He says he doesn't have a car or license, so he asked his neighbors to return it to Police.
We caught up with his neighbor Cristina Saporosa at the police department.
"They were all happy," she said laughing. "All of them."
Salem Police admit this was a huge mistake. They say an officer preparing his cruiser for duty put his rifle case on top of his trunk, forgot about it, and took off to respond to a call.
"We are embarrassed as an agency we should not be putting the public at risk we are here to serve and protect the public," said Lt. Joel Dolan. "No one feels worse than that officer right now."
For the 22 hours the gun was missing, police were worried it would end up in the wrong hands.
"There's a lot of children that could have picked it up and God knows what would've happened," Saporosa said.
The concern was serious enough that police reached out to the media to help spread the word.
"This is the best scenario we could have hoped for," Lt. Dolan said. "Knowing the public is no longer at risk with one of our weapons on the street is a relief."
A possible crisis, averted... thanks to one man's early morning routine.
"I am glad I found it," McQuaid said.
Lt. Dolan says there is currently an internal investigation underway regarding this incident.